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Impact of internal states on learning — ScienceDaily

We’ve all heard the adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” but new research from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh finds that it isn’t all about repetition. Rather, internal states like engagement can also have an impact on learning.

The collaborative research, published in Nature Neuroscience, examined how changes in internal states, such as arousal, attention, motivation, and engagement can affect the learning process using brain-computer interface (BCI) technology. Findings suggest that changes in internal states can systematically influence how behavior improves with learning, thus paving the way for more effective methods to teach people skills quickly, and to a higher level of proficiency.

Using a BCI learning paradigm, the researchers observed how neural activity changed, and the degree to which these changes were influenced by shifts in internal states, as subjects performed tasks by moving a cursor on a computer screen using only patterns of neural activity.

As the study unfolded, the team began to notice occasional large, abrupt fluctuations in neural population activity within the motor cortex. At first, they did not understand why this was happening, but over time, they came to realize that the fluctuations happened whenever the subject was surprised with a change in the task. (Changes ranged from brief pauses to perturbations of the BCI mapping.) At these moments, the subjects’ pupils dilated, suggesting that the abrupt fluctuation was the neural manifestation of an internal state, engagement.

“We weren’t looking for this particular effect in the neural data,” says Steve Chase, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon and the Neuroscience Institute. “The pupil diameter was tightly correlated with the engagement signal that we saw in the neural activity, and it seems to have a massive effect in the motor cortex.”

Ultimately, the research suggests that subjects’ level of engagement or attention can make things easier or harder to learn, depending on the context.

“You might have imagined that the brain would be set up with a clear segregation of functions, like motor areas to motor control, and emotional areas to emotional control, and sensory areas to sensory representation,” says Aaron Batista, professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. “What we’re finding is a serendipitous kind of intrusion of an internal state into a motor area. It could be that we can harness that signal to improve learning.”

The group’s work is ongoing and done in collaboration with the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition, a cross-university research and educational program between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh that leverages each institution’s strengths to investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms that give rise to biological intelligence and behavior.

“One of the unique parts of our collaboration is how integrated we all have been throughout the entire project, from experimental design, to experimental conduction, to data analyses, and adopting; we’re all involved in all parts of that,” says Byron Yu, professor of biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon. “The findings here might one day help people learn everyday skills, such as math or dance, more quickly and to a higher level of proficiency.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University. Original written by Sara Vaccar. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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Internal leak reveals ramping crisis at Qld hospitals

Ambulances spent up to 185 hours ramped in one day as leaked internal reports further reveal the ramping crisis gripping emergency departments across the state.

The Courier-Mail can reveal paramedics spent 185 hours waiting to offload patients and prepare for their next callout at Ipswich, Sunshine Coast University, Cairns and Gold Coast University hospitals on Sunday.

As the government announced yesterday it was convening talks with stakeholders, 15 ambulances sat ramped at Gold Coast University Hospital and patients brought to the Cairns Hospital via ambulance faced a three-hour wait.


Ambulances lined up at the Gold Coast University Hospital.


The leaks came as Health Minister Yvette D’Ath defended the under-pressure system, calling on the Commonwealth to find room for almost 600 people who are using public hospitals while waiting to be moved to aged-care and disability facilities.

She said 60 beds were being used by COVID-19 patients while attributing some of the constraint to clearing elective surgery lists that had backed up during the pandemic.

“Emergency departments across the state are seeing significant, sustained and unprecedented demand pressures,” she said.

The 185 hours – referred to as lost QAS “availability” – are calculated from when an ambulance arrives at a hospital with a patient to when it indicates it’s ready to respond to another job.

The government was peppered with ramping questions by the opposition in parliament yesterday, where leader David Crisafulli claimed Labor was losing control of the health system.

Manager of opposition business Jarrod Bleijie demanded to know where the Health Minister’s “plan to eliminate ambulance ramping” was.

It comes as the opposition received more than 1200 emails after asking Queenslanders to share their experiences with the state’s health system on Monday night.


Health Minister Yvette D’Ath defended the under-pressure system. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath defended the under-pressure system. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT


Ms D’Ath said Queensland’s paramedics and frontline health workers were doing an outstanding job in the face of ever-growing demand.

“We’re looking forward to receiving input later this week from hospital staff, health consumers and unions on how we can tackle the unprecedented demand we’re now seeing,” she said.

Meanwhile, a Queensland Health spokesman said several hospitals had been under “severe pressure” due to a number of factors but was notified of just one capacity-related “Code Yellow” between March 15 and 22.

Redcliffe Hospital declared a Code Yellow on March 17.

Do you have a story to tell? Contact Domanii.Cameron@news.com.au

Originally published as Internal leak reveals ramping crisis at Qld hospitals

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‘Twelve thousand were detained, including 761 minors’. Internal FSB report sheds new light on the number of protesters and detentions at January’s pro-Navalny demonstrations 

There were far fewer people who went to the protests than people who voted for Putin in the elections — this was the Kremlin’s assessment of the pro-Navalny demonstrations that took place across Russia on January 23 and 31. Police officials also supported this statement, reporting less than 10,000 people on the streets of Moscow during the rallies. However, Meduza has uncovered that all this time, the FSB had been collecting its own statistics on the protests — and its findings are at odds with official statements. As evidenced by an internal report, the number of people detained amid the protests was even higher than estimates from human rights groups. And according to the FSB, a total of 90,000 people took part in the countrywide demonstrations. Now, the security service is seriously studying the protest potential of Russian citizens. Meduza special correspondent Liliya Yapparova breaks down the conclusions the FSB has reached so far.

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Queensland Opposition Leader vows to end LNP’s ‘internal cannibalising’

Queensland Opposition Leader David Crisafulli says his leadership and the future of the LNP will “live or die” on whether he reforms the party.

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Another internal review just continues the cover-up – 16 News

The Prime Minister has asked his former chief of staff, now head of his own department, to investigate what Prime Minister’s office knew about an alleged rape of a government staffer, which The Greens say is just perpetuating the cover up.

“Every day, more damning information comes out about the involvement of the Prime Minister’s Office.  We need to get to the bottom of it.” said Senator Larissa Waters, Greens Leader in the Senate and spokesperson for women.

“Announcing yet another internal review is delaying tactic by a Prime Minister more interested in protecting himself and his office than telling the truth and ensuring that all women who work in politics are safe.

“The last time Mr Gaetjens reviewed conduct in the PMO, his findings were kept secret by dubious cabinet-in-confidence claims. The PM has given no assurance that this review will be any different.

“We need a comprehensive, independent review with public findings and recommendations that all side of politics and the public can have trust in.

“On Monday I’ll move a motion to establish an independent inquiry to find out who knew what, when, and what they did about it.  We owe it to survivors to make sure no one has to go through Brittany Higgins’ experience again.”

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Palaszczuk admits COVID-19 plans caused internal rumblings ahead of election, but now her position is stronger than ever

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says while her state is the envy of the world in terms of keeping COVID-19 at bay, her handling of the pandemic has not been met with universal agreement inside the Queensland Labor party.

It is fair to say that concern from both within Labor and the Opposition was well-founded.

Australia had sunk into recession, although the depth and the length of the recession within each state has varied greatly.

It is in correlating the ferocity of lockdown protocols to economic performance across the pandemic period that the financial impact of each state and territory leader’s decisions can be more clearly seen.

In reflecting on her sixth anniversary at the helm of Queensland, Ms Palaszczuk said there had been no greater challenge.

“I think it’s tested all of us and Queenslanders have absolutely stepped up and have done everything we have asked them to do,” she said.

“As a result, look where we are in the moment. I think we are the envy of other parts of the world.”

Governments across the world have struggled to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, with their inability to stop the spread of this acutely contagious virus within their jurisdictions leading to some truly disastrous outcomes.

Some of the richest countries on Earth are grappling mortality rates as high as one in every 1000 citizens. In Belgium, it is closer to one in 500 cases becoming fatal.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine has been tracking global death rates since the beginning of the pandemic and more than 120 countries have experienced worse outcomes than Australia, which, as of Saturday, had recorded 3.64 deaths per 100,000 people.

South Korea has fared slightly better with 2.9 per 100,000, with the island nations of Singapore (0.51) and New Zealand (0.51) among the strongest national performers.

An ABC analysis of death rates within Australia shows Queensland has fared well.

At 0.12 deaths per 100,000 people, it ranks only behind the Northern Territory in a nationwide comparison.

The NT has not recorded one fatality throughout the pandemic.

Australia has benefited from being an island nation able to pull up the drawbridge and stand protected by the moats otherwise known as the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Taiwan, New Zealand and Singapore have also kept their COVID-19 deaths remarkably low.

For Australia, where international flight arrivals remain the primary risk, the use of hotel quarantine has been a saviour.

Mainland Europe struggled due to its land borders while the United Kingdom was late to the idea of hotel quarantine, which would likely have worked if introduced much earlier given the UK is also an island nation.

Failure to protect citizens from COVID-19 has clear political implications.

Looking at the United States, the tragic record of having the highest death toll in the world led many pundits to conclude it was a decisive factor in Donald Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in November’s presidential election.

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Improving internal coordination and engagement


a supplier hasn’t responded to your email or calls. Have they processed you
order? Has your colleague sent a key customer their quote? For many small-business
owners, liaising and following up stakeholders is a time consuming and
frustrating process.

business coordination is key to improving operational efficiency and
productivity as well as enhancing customer experience and the bottom line. With
COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit physical interactions, two-way
communication across multiple digital channels is now key to managing this
coordination with employees, customers, and suppliers.

In today’s digital age, businesses can implement easy-to-use technology platforms to send personalised and contextually relevant communications to their stakeholders at scale and across multiple delivery channels, such as email, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook or even video.

most platforms will provide information on whether your email/WhatsApp/SMS has been
delivered or opened, more sophisticated platforms are now providing businesses
with insights into engagement levels and the effectiveness of their

reporting functionality enables insights into a businesses most engaged staff
or customers, interactions the audience had with their message, and when, as
well as how the message performed compared to previous communications.

insight reports also include the status of the message (sent, received, failed,
replied) for each recipient as well as an individual and average engagement
score. The level of a recipient’s engagement is derived using data science
algorithms from the specific communication and their previous engagement with
the company’s communications.

additional layer coming very soon will be AI-inferred intelligence that
understands the nuances of language (more challenging than crunching numbers).
This will suggest the type of tone to use in a communication and predict things
that will make it more effective – when to send, the type of channel to use,
and how a person is likely to react.

able to ascertain if your communication has been consumed and action taken is

far more valuable for businesses than just knowing whether it was opened. This
level of detail is critical for effective interactions with your employees and
suppliers. For example, an employee might not be opening or responding promptly
to your internal messages because they don’t frequently check their emails and
would prefer receiving urgent communications via text. Or your emails to a
supplier might be going straight to their junk folder.

As an aside, the average open rate for B2B emails is only 15 percent so you might want to consider other digital channels when communicating with your suppliers, such as text or WhatsApp. By leveraging recipient insights, companies can work out where communication is breaking down to ensure the business is running an efficiently as possible.

insight reports also enable businesses to improve their communications and engagement
with their customers. Businesses can utilise reporting features to view their most
engaged and disengaged customers. This information enables you to tailor future
communications to customers depending on their engagement with previous

example, you might want to send your most engaged customers a special offer as a
thank you for their support. Or you might want to reduce the quantity or type
of communications you send to your most disengaged customers.

Or if
your average total engagement score is low, you might want to rethink the style
and length of your communications as well as the digital channel you’re using.
Remember, if you’re sending an email, an engaging subject line is key so keep
it to within five to eight words. For SMS, WhatsApp and other social channels,
it’s important to keep communications short, personalised and to the point.

Clear communication that suits the needs of the recipient has always been key. It’s now possible to have technology automate the backend of your communications at scale, allowing you to concentrate on meeting your customers’ needs.

Ben Erskine, Head of Content, communications workflow platform Whispir

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SA Greens candidate questions party’s ‘internal culture’ as other slams ‘Machiavellian plots’

Internal party tensions have boiled over within the SA Greens, with one former candidate quitting over what he has described as “bullying” and “unethical behaviour”, and an unsuccessful preselection candidate lashing out at the party’s processes.

In separate social media posts, former federal candidate Matt Farrell and state preselection candidate Cate Mussared have gone public with concerns about their treatment inside the minor party.

The comments come in the wake of a preselection battle for second spot on the Greens’ 2022 state election Legislative Council ticket, which was won by staffer Yesha Joshi.

Her opponent, Ms Mussared, took to Facebook to question the process, saying she had lodged an appeal that was accepted by a panel before being rejected by the Greens’ State Council.

“I received the [second] highest first preference votes in the ballot but after other nominees’ preferences were redistributed, I was overtaken by less than three votes for the [number two] position,” she wrote.

“Due to a number of issues I experienced during the preselection process I lodged an appeal.

“The party’s Appeal Panel investigated and made a finding that I was unfairly disadvantaged and that the results of the ballot for the [number two] position were not sound.

“They recommended a run-off ballot. Last weekend, the majority on State Council decided to override these findings and voted against a run-off ballot.”

Yesha Joshi was preselected for the number two spot on the Legislative Council ticket.(YouTube)

Ms Mussared, who works as chief of staff to SA Greens parliamentary leader Mark Parnell, said the council voted to endorse Ms Joshi instead.

“Needless to say, this has been a great disappointment for me and not an experience that I’d like to go through again.”

The Greens have never had two Upper House MPs elected at a single election, but the party is hopeful of securing an additional seat after the exit of Nick Xenophon from the SA political scene.

The party has selected Adelaide city councillor and former senator Robert Simms as its lead candidate to replace Mr Parnell, who will retire at the 2022 election.

Ms Mussared declined to expand on her Facebook comments when contacted by the ABC.

On the matter of candidate preselection, Greens co-convenor John Wishart said he stood by the party’s processes.

“Preselections are tough, and it is a stressful process for people,” he said.

“In the end, State Council decided to stick with the original result and that’s valid.

‘Leaving because of the bullying’

Mr Wishart also said he was aware of the resignation of former federal candidate Matt Farrell, who recently raised separate concerns about his treatment within the party.

In a Facebook post published on January 1, Mr Farrell — who ran for the seat of Hindmarsh at the 2019 federal election — said he was “politically innocent” when he joined the Greens six years ago.

“I joined because I believed that the Greens did politics differently. I am leaving because of those Greens that don’t,” he said.

Mr Farrell declined to provide examples, but in his Facebook post said he had been “maligned” and “ostracised” for “asking that we live up to our pillars, constitution [and] charter”.

He said he had personally raised issues with the party on multiple occasions, but claimed “no-one was willing to speak up” for fear of damage to the party’s reputation or “fear of being bullied themselves”.

Mr Farrell went on to praise several members of the Greens — including Mr Parnell and South Australian Senator Sarah Hanson-Young — saying the party was full of “many wonderful people”.

He said he hoped his decision to quit the party would “spark change”.

Mr Wishart said he was aware of Mr Farrell’s position, and that the party did not “like to lose members”.

“The matter is being followed up internally,” he said.

It is not the first-time divisions within the SA Greens have been made public in recent years.

A composite image with Sarah Hanson-Young on the left and Adelaide City councillor Robert Simms on the right.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and former senator Robert Simms were locked in preselection conflict.(AAP: Dean Lewins / Twitter: @SimmsRobert)

In 2018, Mr Simms challenged Ms Hanson-Young for the top spot on the Greens’ Senate ticket.

Ms Hanson-Young stared down the internal challenge to secure that position, despite Mr Simms writing to Greens members urging them to vote for him instead in the preselection process.

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Eagles great raises questions over Essendon’s internal culture

Glen Jakovich has taken aim at Essendon, believing their off-field culture cost the club two star players in the 2020 trade period.

Joe Daniher (Brisbane), Orazio Fantasia (Port Adelaide) and Adam Saad (Carlton) all chose to depart following the club’s six-win campaign.

Jakovich has revealed that two of those three would have stuck with the Bombers had John Worsfold remained in his role as head coach.

“I just feel the off-field issues continue to linger on, they’re not on the same page from board to admin to players,” Jakovich told Sportsday WA.

“I do know that three of those players that left, two of them would have stayed if John Worsfold was still coach.

“I was told that individually, not by John, but by someone in Melbourne.

“I had a bit to do with two of them in the national academy program.

“A Daniher does not leave Essendon, why did he leave? Maybe one day we’ll find out. You don’t lose three A-graders like that.”

Essendon enters 2021 with a new coach in Ben Rutten and a new president in Paul Brasher, with Kevin Sheedy also returning to the club as part of the board.

Jakovich likes their list on paper, but feels off-field issues have held them back and may continue to do so.

“Something is amiss and it’s internally. From my intel over in Melbourne, there seems to be a lot of Essendon people that demand they play finals every year, but they don’t understand it’s a national competition,” he said.

“They’ve been building this list with no finals experiences or performances, so I think what makes them great off-field, their great histories and traditions, is their Achilles heel right now.

“Until they understand that and the AFL system, then I see them missing the eight again this year because there’s so many off-field issues regarding their administration, their board, their members are frustrated and that pressure hampered John Worsfold last year, you could see that.

“I went through their list last night and I’m just amazed this side has not played regular finals over the last couple of years.

“Their senior players are really strong, they have been struggling with a few injuries.

“Three A-graders left the club and I think what makes Essendon so great is their biggest downfall. They’ve got a big history and a lot of tradition and I think they rely too much on that.

“They haven’t won a final since 2003 … they need to get their off-field issues in order and I’m not talking about what happened in the past, I don’t even want to bring it up what happened in 2012, but I just feel the place is unsettled.

“It needs the players now to step up and perform in their own environment. There’s a lot of pressure on them.

“They’ve got a great list here that I think can play finals football, but they keep missing out.”

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